Name: CJ Callahan (pic from #Hacking Washington
Restaurant/Business: Chef de Cuisine of the Sante' Restaurant Group / Hogwash Whiskey Den, Smoke & Mirrors / Inland Pacific Kitchen / Common Crumb
Your kind of cooking is best described as: My personal style of cooking is best described as slightly elevated comfort food. It is stuff that I experienced as a child and you experienced as a child be it in a diner or truck stop or High School cafeteria or that your mom made, but made on a higher level. Everything is made from scratch and it's just stuff that makes you feel good.
Where and how where you trained to cook? I started working in a restaurant when I was 15 as a dish washer and went from there to fry cook to grill cook to expediter. From there I worked in restaurants all through college. I traveled abroad and worked in Belgium. Then I moved to Chicago where I worked at the Hopleaf Bar for 11 years.
Favorite food when you were growing up? Fried pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn; that's my electric chair meal.
What was your biggest food fail? My first stage in in Chicago. I had't done one before. I was at MK in downtown and I was pretty nervous. I was 24 and this was a pretty popular restaurant in the city at the time. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I completely bombed it. I was using a lowboy that was a pull out drawer that I hadn't used before. This guy was like grab this and it was a really prep intensive relish that probably took him 45 minutes to make. I pulled the whole think out and there were cross bars that I didn't know how to work because I was so green that it all just fell on the floor. He kicked me off the line and said this guy has no experience chef. So I sat there with my head hanging in shame and then there was this guy working the grill and he asked if I wanted to cook so he let me redeem myself, but that first hour was a complete disaster.
What's always in your fridge and what do you use it for? Beer for relaxing.
If you could eat a meal with anyone, who would it be? My nephew. He has always expressed interest in food since he was a kid. Every Christmas he and I are always in the kitchen together. He is old enough now to go out to dinner. I think it would be nice to show him what dinner is.